UBUNTU, “I am, because we are”

African Students Association’s 21st Annual Culture Show By: Tosin Adeyemi

This year, the African Students Association (ASA) at the University of Michigan looked to Southern Africa for inspiration for the theme of their 21st Annual Culture Show, Ubuntu. Ubuntu loosely translates to, “I am, because we are” in the Zulu language of South Africa. The culture show took place March 15th, 2019 from 7-9pm in the Michigan Theater.

The theme Ubuntu was expressed through four different scenes: society, community, family, and individual. Each scene incorporated fashion and performance. For the fashion component of the show, students from U of M in Ann Arbor, as well as students from Eastern Michigan, modeled clothing from different regions of the continent. Clothing included floor length skirts, dresses, pants, and more! Under the leadership of ASA’s model coordinators, students perfected their walks through weekly practices on campus.

In addition to stunning model scenes, the show featured a variety of performances. In the scene community, there were two performances. First, Bichini Bia Congo Dance Theater Company, which performs Congolese dance, graced the stage with two dancers and one drummer. The troupe was found by Jean-Claude Biza, an instructor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance. This scene also featured the Michigan Gospel Chorale, who sang the song, “Siyahamba”. Their melodious performance left attendees in awe.

In the scene family, the Amala Dancers performed, which has consistently been a crowd favorite. ASA is especially grateful for Amala Dancers, because they have performed at numerous ASA events, including Our Global Africa and Charity Ball for the 2018-2019 school year. Finally, in the individual scene, there was spoken word as well as ASA’s first solo music artist, Asante. Aldo Pando Girard during his spoken word piece touched upon his multiple racial identities and Asante sang about his Ghanaian background. Asante is a University of Michigan alum.
Left: Asante (@mindofasante (Twitter/Instagram) & mindofasante.com)

Overall, ASA’s executive board members are happy about the outcome of the event. The event would not have been possible without all of the students involved, and generous financial support. We want to express our gratitude to Barger Leadership Institute (BLI) for financial support, as well as a framework for developing leadership habits throughout the event planning and execution.

One habit that we extensively utilized was Collect, Combine, and Create, in order to assemble different elements of the show into a cohesive, vibrant evening of culture for attendees. For example, board members on the fashion and styling committees collected fabrics originating from different countries and combined them in ways unique to each model. Also, members on finance committee combined different specialty items into bags for our VIP attendees. The biggest items were bags of plantain chips from Frita Batidos, which were secured via email with the manager. BLI’s emphasis on professional development translated into professionally reaching out to the manager inquiring about sponsorship. Thus, the impact of BLI on ASA members’ growth was not confined to leadership.

One habit that we wish we utilized more was expect challenges. Although we knew having the show the Friday after spring break would bring challenges, there were more challenges than we expected. These included coordinating performances, given many students could not make dress rehearsal because of class, attracting students, and stage managing during the show. Nevertheless, reflection upon what went well and what did not go well is invaluable information for ASA’s next executive board.

We would like to acknowledge the following performers, as well as provide links to more photos and a video of the show:

Bichini Bia Congo

Michigan Gospel Chorale

AMALA Dancers

Aldo Pando Girard (spoken word)

Asante (music performance)

Photo gallery here,  and video here!

Overall, we were extremely pleased with how the show came together, and are excited to see what the next executive board has in store for the 22nd Annual Culture Show. Thank you again BLI for your generous support, and we look forward to working with you in the future.

The 2018-2019 ASA Executive Board

Giselle Uwera, Maxwell Otiato Megan Manu, Temitope Oyelade Selina Asamoah, Jeremy Atuobi, Ihunanya Muruako, Kingsley Enechukwu, Tosin Adeyemi


By: Tosin Adeyemi

All photo credits to Benji Bear Photography.

Our Global Africa: A Night of Food, Music, and Performances

Our Global Africa: A Night of Food, Music, and Performances November 16, 2018 7-9pm, UMMA Apse

A Collaboration between UMMA, African Students Association (ASA), Caribbean Student Association (CSA), Black Student Union (BSU), and Creatives of Color (CoC)

In conjunction with UMMA and the breaktaking exhibit, ‘Beyond Borders: Global Africa,’ ASA, CSA, BSU, and CoC shared their perspectives on how African culture, artistic expressions, and traditions are beyond borders. The exhibition explores identity, migration, and the international scope of art from Africa and the African Diaspora.

Co-host Jeremy Kwame

The event was an outstanding success! There were approximately 200 people in attendance to mingle and visit the exhibition before the performances, witness amazing performances, and enjoy delicious catering. The food must have been good because we ran out pretty quickly! Further, this event had a more diverse turnout in terms of racial and ethnic social identities than some of our previous events, which was exciting.

Pictured right: Jeremy Kwame, one of our co-hosts, introducing the next performance. Attendees viewed performances on the main floor of the Apse, as well as from the balcony.

We would like to recognize all the performers for the event:

Lindsey Sharpe: Cello

Aldo Leopoldo Pando Girard: Spoken word

Ambiance Dance Team

Dania Harris: Spoken word

AMALA Dancers

Zoe Allen: Spoken word

Kameron Johnson, Caelin Amin, Tariq Gardner, Kasan Belgrave: Band

Our team started small by meeting with Dr. Laura DeBecker, the Associate Curator of African Art at UMMA and Ms. Lisa Borgsdorf, the Manager of Public Programs at UMMA, in April of this year. They were hoping to collaborate with ASA on an interactive event surrounding the ‘Beyond Borders: Global Africa’ exhibition. From there, ASA members reached out to other student organizations part of the African Diaspora for performances to create an engaging, and educational evening of African artistic expressions. Once performances were finalized, we delegated speaking roles to our co-hosts, point person on ASA, and collaborators at UMMA. This skill of starting small contributed to a successful evening because everyone knew what their responsibilities were.

Pictured left: AMALA Dancers before their performance. The Amala Dancers’ mission is to promote self-love, pride, and unity to descendants of Africa and its Diaspora and to the greater campus community. ‘Amala’ is an Igbo word that means grace, as in grace of God. Amala also comes from the name of a dance “egwu-amala” that was popular among those that lived by the river. “Egwu-amala” can be translated as the “canoe dance” or the “mermaid-dance”.

We also utilized the BLI Habit, work to learn, during the planning process. For example, we learned that an effective way of gauging the educational impact of our event is by waiting for opportunities to present themselves. The gallery viewing, for some attendees, sparked a deeper interest in the inspiration surrounding the exhibition. A team member had the exciting opportunity to witness an attendee ask Dr. DeBecker about what led her to that position and which artist’s work in the gallery was her favorite. This interaction is an example of how running the event led to learning something that could not have been planned. Also, Creatives of Color, Caribbean Student Association, Black Student Union, and African Students Association have not collaborated on a event before, but after working together, conversations have already taken place for future collaborations.

Although the event was a success, there were some challenges along the way. During the planning process, sometimes the groupchat among the collaborating organizations was stagnant. We dealt with this challenge by personally reaching out to representatives from the other organizations, rather than asking for updates in the groupchat. This change in communication was more successful because the representatives were more responsive, and ASA members were able to start associating names with faces. During the event, one challenge was not having enough time for all performers to do a sound check. We dealt with this challenge by performing the sound check for as many performers as we could, and welcoming and encouraging the guests who arrived early to move to the cocktail tables for food and mingling.

Overall, we are very happy with the outcome of the event. It was a new event, with a substantial number of guests. We could not have done it without the tremendous amount of support from UMMA.

Pictured left: Ms. Lisa Borgsdorf, Manager of Public Programs at UMMA and Tosin Adeyemi, ASA’s point person for the event (and Kehinde Wiley in the flesh!)

Further, I’d encourage anyone interested in African Art to take HISTART 208, taught by Dr. Ray Silverman and Dr. Laura DeBecker. It was an amazing class that ended up leading to this entire event!

Unfortunately, the exhibit is no longer displayed, but more information can be found at the following link: https://umma.umich.edu/exhibitions/2018/beyond-borders-global-africa


Thank you again BLI for your support. We hope to collaborate again in the near future.


ASA Executive Board 2018-2019

Pictured (left to right):

Kingsley Enechukwu, Ihunanya Muruako, Megan Manu, Giselle Uwera, Temitope Oyelade, Tosin Adeyemi, & Maxwell Otiato

Not pictured: Jeremy Kwame Selina Asamoah



By: Tosin Adeyemi, Treasurer, African Students Association

One. Two. Three. FUNKTION!




FunKtion is University of Michigan’s only all male, multicultural, urban hip hop dance team. We perform consistently throughout the year entertaining crowds and introducing people to new culture, music, and expression. Every performance starts with the same chant we’ve had since our conception in 1999. “FunKtion on three. One. Two. Three. FUNKTION.”

We don’t want to be the best dancers. We don’t want to be the most technical. We focus on development.

We stay true to the notion that anyone without experience can learn to express themselves, to build on their confidence, to show them the beauty of community.

We believe that in order to entertain the audience with our performances, we first have to entertain ourselves: by focusing on the bonds we have with each other and having fun during practices (at the cost of efficiency), we do just that. By doing so, we create a place for ourselves on campus as not just a team, but as a brotherhood, one capable of surviving grueling 6-12 hour practices.

Every fall we perform at 2XS Barnite, a dance showcase hosted by Dance2XS UMich and features crews from all over the midwest. Our performance this year was one of the best we have had yet, and can be watched at this link: https://youtu.be/f5Uh_Ki2v1I. We hope you enjoy it, and we want to thank the BLI again for helping us look so fly.

By: Sanjee Choudhuri